San Miguel Chicago’s Gary Comer campus to close at end of school year

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San Miguel School Chicago announced it will close its Gary Comer Campus at 819 N. Leamington Ave. in July because there’s not enough money to support both of San Miguel’s middle-school campuses.

The challenging economic environment has impacted all charitable fundraising efforts, and the organization was unable to raise the necessary funds to keep the campus open beyond the end of this school year, the school said in a press release.

“This was a painful and difficult decision,” President and Executive Director Mike Anderer-McClelland said in the press release.

“In the past two years, our leadership worked diligently to prevent the loss of this community asset,” he said.

The organization decreased overall operating expenses by $1.1 million, increased funding by 17 percent last fiscal year and sought major donors or partners to ensure the long-term sustainability of the campus.

“Given the school’s limited resources, San Miguel Schools’ Chicago board of directors approved a resolution to close the Gary Comer campus at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. The De La Salle Christian Brothers of the Midwest District, the school’s sponsoring religious order, approved the resolution, effective July 2012, to ensure sufficient time for our students to find new schools and our staff to secure other employment,” Anderer-McClelland said.

San Miguel is not tuition-driven like most private schools. Families pay what they can, so the school relies on private donors, corporations and foundations for more than 90 percent of its operating budget. This is consistent with all San Miguel schools across the country.

Its mission is to provide an innovative and accessible education to children most in need — academically underachieving students from low-income families. San Miguel Chicago students improve as much as two reading grade levels within the first six months at the school, and graduate from the 8th grade with the academic skills necessary to excel in high school, the school says.

“Our successful model of education is mission-centered. Without San Miguel, the families we serve could not afford the kind of education their children receive,” Anderer-McClelland said.

San Miguel is working with students’ families and the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic Schools to find the best educational alternatives for the 35 students affected by the closure.

San Miguel students come from inner-city Chicago neighborhoods. Through small class sizes, an extended school day and year, a low student-to-teacher ratio, and a special graduate support program, San Miguel School is dedicated to each student’s success from sixth grade through high school graduation.

San Miguel seeks to make a positive and lasting contribution to the communities it serves, school officials say, noting that recent standardized achievement testing saw the highest student scores in the school’s 17-year history, with all 8th graders performing at or beyond the 9th grade level, and more than half performing at the 11th grade level.

By the end of this school year, 151 students will have graduated from the Comer Campus since its opening in 2002. To date, 85 percent of Comer Campus graduates have completed high school or are still enrolled in high school, well above Chicago Public Schools’ and even the national averages of 56 percent and 78 percent respectively.

San Miguel’s Back of the Yards Campus, 1949 W. 48th St., which currently serves 84 middle-school students, 108 high school students and approximately 300 adults monthly through its Graduate and Family Support program, will remain open.

San Miguel School Chicago is part of the San Miguel School national network of 14 inner-city middle schools sponsored by the De LaSalle Christian Brothers.

For additional information on the Comer Campus closing, click here.


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